Blind Shaft

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Blind Shaft
BlindShaftPoster.jpg
Directed by Li Yang
Produced by Li Yang
Written by Li Yang
Starring Li Yixiang,
Wang Shuangbao
Wang Baoqiang
Music by Zhang Yadong
Cinematography Liu Yonghong
Edited by Li Yang
Karl Riedl
Distributed by United States:
Kino International
Release dates Berlin:
February 12, 2003
United Kingdom:
November 7, 2003
United States:
February 4, 2004
Running time 92 minutes
Language Mandarin

Blind Shaft (Chinese: 盲井; pinyin: Mángjǐng) is a 2003 film about a pair of brutal con artists operating in the illegal coal mines of present-day northern China. The film was written and directed by Li Yang (李杨), and is based on Chinese writer Liu Qingbang's short novel Shen Mu (Sacred Wood).

Production history[edit]

Most of the filming took place 700 meters underground on the border between the Hebei and Shanxi provinces of northern China.[1] Li and his crew were harassed and threatened during the filming.[2]

Reception[edit]

Blind Shaft has won at least twelve awards, including the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Achievement at 2003 Berlin International Film Festival.[3]

Ban in China[edit]

Blind Shaft has not been approved for release in China. The Economist noted how "directors are eager to comment on the rapid changes in Chinese society. But films such as Li Yang's Blind Shaft (a bleak, compelling picture about life in China's illegal coal mines)... were not shown to local audiences even though they had been acclaimed abroad."[4]

The director has stated that although he is not sure exactly why the film was banned in China, he believes the film's content has "no political stigma" attached to it, noting that the novel received China's highest literary award, the Lao She Literary Prize.[5]

Discussing the film's themes, Li emphasizes the universal, human elements:

Plot[edit]

Most coal mines in China are worked by migrant workers who are forced to endure back-breaking, dangerous work in order to send money home. Some of them have additional schemes of their own.

Song Jinming (played by Li Yixiang) and Tang Zhaoyang (Wang Shuangbao) are professional con artists, running an intricate scam they have perfected through repeated practice. They find a naive young man looking for work, and convince him that they have arranged three lucrative coal mining jobs for themselves and a relative. The relative has not arrived in time, leaving a gap which they generously offer to the victim, on the condition that he pretend to be the missing relative. After a few days of working in the mine, they murder the victim, and by making the murder look like an accident, they use his death to extort compensation money from the mine's management.

After introducing the scam, the film follows the pair as they repeat it on a new victim, sixteen-year-old Yuan Fengming (played by Wang Baoqiang). Tensions arise as Song begins to have reservations, touched by the victim's youth and innocence and his uncanny resemblance to their first victim of the film, while Tang remains focused on making money for himself and his own family.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blind Shaft
  2. ^ "Filming the Dark Side of Capitalism in China". 
  3. ^ Hoberman, J. (2004-01-28—2008-02-03). "village voice > film > Blind Shaft". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  4. ^ Chinese Cinema, The Economist, 27th April 2006.
  5. ^ "BLINDER SCHACHT - MANG JING". 
  6. ^ Chan, John (2003-07-18). "Sydney Film Festival Blind Shaft director speaks about filmmaking in China Part 2". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 

External links[edit]